Liga 123 Week 39 Preview: Title and playoff picture still wide openMay 12, 2018
There is a meeting of teams with contrasting aims on Sunday night. Rayo Vallecano (1st) are looking to consolidate their lead at the top of Liga 123. They currently have a two-point advantage and are chasing their sixth successive win as they welcome Córdoba (19th) to Vallecas on Sunday who have gone two matches without a win after picking up 20 of 27 points available prior to this slide. However, José Ramón Sandoval’s side should not be ruled out as they are fighting to stave off relegation and will be combative in their approach to this game, knowing they need to pick up points quickly. They are sitting in 19th place, the first of the automatically descending positions, four points behind the nearest team in safety Almería (17th) who contest an Andalusian derby against Granada (10th) that same evening. Neither side has enjoyed recent success and both have undergone managerial changes; Granada are on their second manager in seven weeks.
Second-placed Huesca are enjoying a four-match winning streak and should have no problem overcoming a tepid Alcorcón (16th) side who have struggled of late and have just three draws to show for their recent endeavours. A win for Rubi’s outfit, coupled with a Rayo loss, would send the El Alcoraz side back to the summit.
Sporting Gijón (3rd) tackle hapless Barcelona B (20th) at El Molinón as they look to keep pace with the top three and have a gilt-edged chance to do so against a side which is certain for the drop. The Catalans are on a horrific run of 11 matches without a win, which includes losing their last seven. The disparity between the two teams is huge. Despite losing to Real Zaragoza 2-1 last week, Sporting are one of the strongest teams in the division having been unbeaten in twelve matches prior to their last outing.
In fact, Real Zaragoza (4th) are making a late surge as well but are unlikely to finish higher than their current standing. They visit Cádiz (6th) on Monday night, buoyed by their result over Sporting. The hosts have tailed off as the business end of the season hots up, with four draws and a loss indicative of this. However, if they can gain all three points, and Numancia lose or draw, the Gaditanos could overtake their opponents into fourth spot.
Numancia (5th), still smarting from last week’s 1-0 home loss to Real Valladolid, kick off the week’s action on Friday night with a trip to Murcia to clash with Lorca (21st) who are already relegated.
A match with possibly the most playoff implications is on Saturday night between Osasuna (9th) and Real Oviedo (7th). Both teams have Cádiz in their sights as they aim to bag the last playoff spot with the visitors being the nearest competitors, sitting just a single point behind them. However, Osasuna are unbeaten in five and are only two points further back.
Nestled between these two sides, and watching this result with interest, are Real Valladolid (8th) who are up against mid-table Albacete (14th) in a crucial match for them. A loss could see them fall as far as tenth, while a win could propel them into the playoff melee if fortunes go their way in other matches. It is as tight as it is complex in the chasing pack, but Real Valladolid have picked up seven points from the last nine on offer. These are definite signs of improvement under new manager Sergio González, who welcomed the birth of his child this week, and his players will be keen to give him more to celebrate this weekend.
Tenerife (11th) face a tricky visit to Reus (13th) who are unbeaten in four, the opposite of the islanders who have three losses and a draw on their scorecard.
It is not often one would say that a team should not relish playing Cultural Leonesa (15th) but this is the case for Lugo (12th) who face the La Cultu with the hosts in excellent form; boasting three wins and two draws in the previous five matches as they pull away from the relegation trapdoor.
Gimnàstic (18th) will try and put a little more light between themselves and the four teams heading to Segunda B next season. One of which is Sevilla Atlético (22nd) and Luis Tevent takes his side to Catalonia with nothing but pride to play for.